While the Red Sox don’t know who their closer will be–with 28-year-old Nicaraguan find Devern Hansack a distinct possibility–they have a much better idea of their setup men.
They acquired 35-year-old righthander Brendan Donnelly from the Angels in a trade Friday, giving up lefthander Phil Seibel. He’s expected to team with veteran Mike Timlin in handling the load in the seventh and eighth innings, ahead of a Closer To Be Named Later.
Donnelly was originally drafted in 1992 (White Sox, 13th round) and was released by five different organizations, pitching in two independent leagues, before landing with the Angels in 2001. He was a key part of their 2002 World Series championship team and has compiled a 23-8, 2.87 mark with 295 strikeouts in 295 innings over 276 relief appearances in the last five seasons. His .742 winning percentage in that span ranks as the best among all major league relievers with at least 20 decisions. He made just $950,000 in 2006 but is arbitration eligible, and his salary is expected to more than double.
Seibel, 27, is an Orange County, Calif., native and Cypress High graduate who gets to be closer to his beloved Los Angeles Clippers with the deal. (His father’s company was a title sponsor of the Clippers, and Seibel told BA in 2000, “I practically grew up in that locker room . . . I love the Clippers.”)
An eighth-round pick of the Expos in 2000 after a solid three-year career at Texas, Seibel has had an injury-filled pro career that included a brief big league stint with the Red Sox in 2004; he threw 3 2/3 shutout innings. The Red Sox had claimed him off waivers in 2003 (from the Mets, who’d acquired him in a 2002 seven-player trade), and he missed the 2005 season with Tommy John surgery.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder–who was set to rank 29th among the Red Sox’ top 30 prospects in BA’s upcoming Prospect Handbook–was lights out in his return from injury in 2006, though a strained forearm aborted his chances for a September callup. His strong suits are command of his 86-88 mph his fastball, his slider and his makeup. He also throws a changeup and a curve. He’s not overpowering, but he doesn’t make mistakes and limited lefties to a .147 average (and righties to a .154 mark) in 2006.
The Angels’ lone lefthanded reliever to make an appearance in 2006 was J.C. Romero (who posted a 6.70 ERA), and acquired Seibel to rectify that situation in ’07.